Retro TWA Hotel opens for business at Kennedy Airport

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport is officially open for business -- and sending guests back in time.

The state-of-the-art hotel is designed to bring visitors back to 1962, with rooms featuring windows that look out on the runways of JFK Airport.

And even if your visit doesn't include a flight, you can always get cocktails in a decommissioned plane.

"The TWA building was ahead of its time, and it represented New York's vision and creativity and boldness and outside-the-box thinking," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "This rebirth of the TWA Hotel says we haven't lost our imagination, our boldness, our creativity, our daring, and we are still one step ahead of everyone else. If you want to know where the future's going to lead, look to the State of New York. The best is yet to be, and the TWA Hotel is a beautiful example."

The iconic Trans World Flight Center opened in 1962 and closed nearly 20 years ago, and the new hotel incorporates the famous terminal.

Left empty after it was deemed too small to handle current aviation, it could not be demolished because it is a city landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The new terminal currently used by JetBlue was constructed around it.

Then it underwent a $265 million renovation to become a hotel, which boasts 505 guest rooms and 40,000 square feet of event and meeting space.

Designed by iconic architect Eero Saarinen, the structure has been the subject of heated debate since it closed as the airport's Terminal 5 in 2001.

The attention to detail is being called incredible. From the furniture to the original iconic departures and arrivals board, 600 rotary phones, and original white tile, you really feel like you've stepped back in time to the age of glamorous air travel.

There are also no right angles in the building, and the hotel has its own power plant. It took a team of about 7,000 people two and a half years to complete the project.

Officials held ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion. Many of the original employees were in attendance.

"I had the privilege to VIP Elizabeth Taylor when she came here to do Cleopatra," said Peter Christopher Coyle, former TWA employee. "And when she flew, she stepped in her with her entourage, she was very, very polite. She came in here with 10 cars of luggage parked outside, and oh the stories that we could tell!"

Right next to the lobby is a 1958 vintage plane, and inside of it is a bar. The hotel also features an infinity pool on the rooftop and a gym.

"It's nice to see all of the friends and just being in the terminal brings back so many wonderful memories," said karen Kobus, former TWA employee. "From the people that you would meet on the airplane and the associates, your friends, it's just really nice."

The hotel began taking reservations on Valentine's Day, and the firsts guests will check-in at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

* More Queens news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.